Artist rendering of Ekstrom Library renovations.
Artist rendering of Ekstrom Library renovations.

Final preparations are underway for the long-anticipated renovation of Ekstrom Library’s third floor, which will provide modernized, quiet study space, a new Reading Room, a dedicated graduate student study area and better lighting and wayfinding. Construction will begin in May after Spring semester finals.

With enrollment at UofL predicted to grow in the coming years, Libraries leadership seeks to utilize current available space to provide a high-quality library experience. Raising the seat-to-student ratio helps UofL’s competitive edge in recruiting new students and retaining current ones.

Planned for several years, the $3M project is primarily funded by gifts and endowments, as well as a $500,000 grant from UofL administration as part of its student initiatives program. It is heartily endorsed by the Student Government Association. In planning the renovation, the Libraries also worked with its Libraries Student Advisory Board and conducted a comprehensive survey last year that revealed the need for more high-quality study spaces.

A large component of the renovation is a proposed Jewish Studies Reading Room in space formerly occupied by the Writing Center. Currently, Libraries Development Director Matt Wyatt is working with the UofL Jewish Studies program and the local Jewish Community of Louisville to raise necessary funds for this project, which will serve to inspire current and future Jewish scholars and recognize this important constituency on campus.

During construction, access to the third floor will be limited; the Delphi Center’s Teaching Innovation Learning Lab (TILL) will remain open, and students will be welcome on any other floor. The bulk of the project will take place May through September and wrap up soon after. The third floor will remain a quiet floor after construction.

Libraries personnel have been working diligently over the past year to relocate books and clear the way for the renovation. As of February 22, numerous books have been moved to either the 4th floor of Ekstrom (175k), the Robotic Retrieval System (RRS) (22k), or high-density storage (16k). This process is ongoing and will continue as books continue their migration. Because of the time and care involved in curating, documenting and filing information, some materials will be inaccessible for a period of time, roughly between six months to two years. The urgent need for renovations prompted an acceleration of the collections migration, and curation will continue as quickly as possible over the foreseeable future to return most books back into circulation.

As this process takes place, the Libraries will practice intelligent stewardship, to make sure all materials are useful and necessary for the important work of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and other researchers. As in every academic and public library, some materials in the collections, like duplicate titles, or others that have not been used or checked out in the entire time they’ve been housed in the stacks, are subject to weeding. Ekstrom librarians have led a meticulous process of curation to ensure the library retains all appropriate materials of high quality.

Materials undergoing migration comprise hardcover books prior to 2000 from Library of Congress A-N. All LOC A-N books published after 2000 will remain on the floor, located in the southwest quadrant, and fully accessible to students and researchers.

Patrons who wish to borrow materials that have been moved may use the Inter Library Loan system to access them from other libraries. Typically, article requests can be fulfilled within 36 hours and book/loan requests within a week-10 working days. T

To provide information to the University community and the public, the Libraries have created a website about the project.